A Proposal for an Improved Justice System
This essay will propose ideas for improving the justice system. It will discuss reforms in areas such as sentencing, rehabilitation, and the balance between punishment and correction. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Crime.
After taking this course, I now understand our criminal justice system much better. I’ve learned how to measure crime rates, the strategies used in policing, and theories on why crime happens. I’ve also discovered that there is much room for improvement. Unfortunately, it appears that many aspects of our criminal justice system have become highly politicized. Rather than crafting policies to govern society effectively, politicians often focus more on securing reelection and maintaining monetary endorsements from large corporations. In order to improve our current system, we need to address three key areas: eliminate policies which result in disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates leading to overcrowded prisons, end policies excluding people with a record of arrest or conviction from rights and opportunities, and decriminalize marijuana.
Our country is currently grappling with increasing issues relating to racial discrimination. When it comes to law enforcement’s handling of these issues, they often fall short. It’s evident that police disproportionately target minority communities during patrols, instigating fear and distrust towards officers within these communities. Interactions between minorities and the police also tend to be more forceful and violent, exacerbating the public’s resentment towards law enforcement. Police officer training programs differ significantly from state to state. However, most don’t require specific training related to racial profiling, and those that do only offer minimal training. For example, the Missouri Department of Public Safety requires police officers to complete only one hour of racial profiling training per year, which seems insufficient for an issue affecting such a broad swath of Americans (dps.mo.gov). Instituting educational programs that focus on racial issues could help reduce the disproportionate targeting of minorities and ensure that the public maintains a positive sentiment towards the police. Law enforcement officers should be civil and respectful, avoiding authoritarian language in their interactions with all members of the public. By incorporating more comprehensive education for officers, we can promote understanding and respect for racial and cultural differences and encourage non-conbative law enforcement methods.
When analyzing prison demographics, white people are underrepresented, while minorities are often disproportionately represented. As discussed above, a key reason for this is the targeting of minorities; people of color experience discrimination at every stage of the judicial system. They are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, harshly sentenced, and left with a lifelong criminal record. However, there are other sources of discrimination as well, such as targeted lawmaking. It’s evident that many of our existing policies were initially passed to further oppress minorities; this bias is apparent in many drug laws and policies that permanently exclude people with a history of drug arrests. Even if a person does not face jail or prison time, a drug conviction often imposes a lifelong ban on many aspects of their social, economic, and political life. This discrimination doesn’t end with the initial charge; many minorities face further prejudices throughout their journey in the criminal justice system. This bias includes less leniency and harsher sentencing, which create additional barriers regarding voting, employment, loans, financial aid, and other forms of public assistance. This perpetuates racial inequality in our country; prison is likely the only place where minorities are the majority, not because they commit more crimes.
Another issue in our criminal justice system is overpopulated prisons. The United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world, accounting for nearly twenty-five percent of the world’s incarcerated population. This is largely due to the war on drugs. Politically fueled drug laws and harsh sentencing requirements have produced deeply unfair outcomes for people of color, even though drug use and sales are consistent across all racial and ethnic groups. Black and Latino people are far more likely to be criminalized than white people. Releasing non-violent drug offense inmates, which comprise a significant portion of the prison population, could help alleviate the overcrowding in prisons. There is no reason to have adults who could contribute positively to our society incarcerated, especially considering the high cost of their detention. Nearly three million children in the U.S. are growing up in households where one or more parents are incarcerated; two thirds of these parents were charged with nonviolent offences like drug possession. As discussed in class, many times, non-violent criminals that end up going to prison come out more criminally-minded. This, combined with the societal limitations and restrictions placed on them, creates a fertile ground for reoffending. This becomes a vicious cycle that is particularly hard to break for minorities. Incarcerating someone can drastically change their future and permanently close many doors of opportunity. Therefore, it should not be treated as lightly as it currently is.
Lastly, laws regarding drugs need to be completely revised. The responsibility of scheduling drugs should be undertaken by medical professionals and the scientific community, not politicians and bureaucrats. This has led to politicized drug wars and government propaganda used to sway public opinion and overshadow scientific research. It has perpetuated fear and misinformation, creating a panic around a relatively safe drug. Minorities have particularly suffered, as a disproportionate number of them have been imprisoned because of drug charges. Under the guise of protecting citizens from a “heinous” drug, lawmakers were able to institutionalize racism by unfairly targeting minorities, thereby abusing the legal system to limit their opportunities. This practice has nearly decimated minority neighborhoods. On a brighter note, a majority of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana because research has shown it to be useful in lessening pain symptoms, reducing seizure episodes and even effectively treating cancer patients. There are already ten states that have fully legalized recreational marijuana use and thirty-five states permit its medical use. If the trend of legalizing marijuana continues, it seems only right to release inmates serving sentences related to marijuana possession. This could not only help alleviate overcrowding in prisons but also afford these individuals the chance to actively participate in society. Legalizing marijuana could potentially also reduce the dependency Americans have on addictive medications like opioids, which have become an epidemic killing thousands of Americans every year.
Any kind of change can be controversial, and there will always be individuals who disagree with new policies. However, when it comes to the systemic oppression of minorities through politicized drug laws, it should no longer be a question. America prides itself on being diverse but, when a huge portion of that diverse population is incarcerated and oppressed, it stops being something we can pride ourselves on. A majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, which means the federal government has to catch up with the changing culture.
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A Proposal for an Improved Justice System. (2019, Dec 26). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/a-proposal-for-an-improved-justice-system/